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The Secret Source of Happiness

The Animas River, Colorado. Copyright © Michael D. Warden. All Rights Reserved.
“What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” — Henry Miller

Now coming into my 14th year of coaching, one of the key lessons I’ve learned is this: The greater part of happiness and joy in life comes not from circumstance but from choice. One man looks at the mountain before him and sees an impossible obstacle. Another looks at the same mountain and sees nothing but beauty and adventure. The only difference is in how they choose to see their lives, but that subtle difference makes all the difference in the world.

I remember a six-day hike through the high country of southern Colorado a few years ago. I remember the biting cold rain that never left us alone on that trip. And I remember the unbelievable beauty of the landscape, the magic of a shepherd’s appearance to show us the way forward right at the moment of our need, and the massive sheltering tree that kept all of us dry and laughing on the wettest night of the journey. (The photo above was taken on the trail, during one of the few breaks from the rain that week.)

I remember how all of it was a lesson for me, Divine training to help me see how the path I walk can be hard and dangerous and rarely as easy as I wish, but how it’s also so rich with immense beauty, serendipity and adventure. Which one I chose to focus on will determine the quality of my experience and either feed or starve the faith that gives me life.

It’s not what happens to us, but the meaning we make of it, that determines the quality of our lives. Though the rain of disappointment may fall often on your path, that does not diminish the beauty of the landscape of your life, nor can it kill your ability to choose gratitude and wonder as your companions on the way, nor prevent you from walking in obedience to the deeper calling of your heart.

In the end, I think a man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be. Whatever may befall us, whatever obstacles may be thrown up to block our path, or whatever betrayal we experience from enemies or friends alike, we each decide the quality of lens through which we interpret our lives. Trial or Adventure. Burden or Beauty. Punishment or Gift. Life becomes what we choose to see it as, regardless of whether good or bad things happen to us on the way. There is an adventure in every trial, and a gift of beauty in every burden, for the eye willing to see it.

The real question you need to ask yourself is this:

Which lens will you choose today?

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